A Cranfield University academic who has devoted 20 years to studying the psychology of MPs is urging those feeling stressed by Brexit to look after their wellbeing to help maintain clear thinking. Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Research is based on in-depth interviews with MPs conducted before and after the Brexit referendum

A Cranfield University academic, who has devoted 20 years to studying the psychology of MPs, is urging those feeling stressed by Brexit to look after their wellbeing to help maintain clear thinking.

Professor Richard Kwiatkowski, Professor of Organisational Psychology at Cranfield School of Management and a trained psychologist, presented the findings of his latest research to the annual conference of the British Psychological Society (1 May).

Richard Kwiatkowski Image: Cranfield University

Professor Kwiatkowski said:

“The well-being of MPs is crucial for all of us. They have to be able to make good decisions on difficult matters on our behalf.

“The strain, pressure, publicity, threats, anxiety, long hours, fatigue and risk to one’s self-image conspire to make the job a difficult and often thankless one.”

Among his recommendations, he urged MPs to:

  • Acknowledge the stress they are under and the reality of current threats to their personal identity and safety. Seek social support from family and friends – including, but not limited to, MPs – and ask for professional help if they need it
  • Ensure a balance of activities and not devalue routine work, such as helping constituents, committee work and All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs)
  • Remember they are critical to democracy and recognise that it is their duty to maintain their own optimal functioning, as stress impacts clear thinking. Consider if the culture and mode of working of parliament is conducive to good health and clear thinking.

Professor Kwiatkowski said:

“Though it may be an unpopular thing to say, MPs need to look after themselves. Their physical and mental state has a significant impact. High levels of stress have a negative impact on clarity of thought, and at the moment we need our MPs to think clearly.

“Addressing these issues directly can help MPs – and anyone who is suffering serious stress at work.”